Callous Scrooge, shackled Marley, and the haunting spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future spring vividly to life in People’s Light Producing Director Zak Berkman’s world premiere adaptation of Dickens’ yuletide ghost story. Featuring a vibrant mix of original songs and newly arranged nineteenth-century English carols, this music infused A Christmas Carol captures the magic, joy, and generosity of the beloved classic in a whole new light. Helmed by director David Bradley, the multi-talented, multi-generational cast features local favorites such as Ian Merrill Peakes as Ebenezer Scrooge (through December 23), Charlie DelMarcelle, Liz Filios, and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, along with Broadway’s Zonya Love (The Color Purple), Pearl Rhein (Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812), and Dorcas Leung (Miss Saigon), to name a few. And 7th grader Olivia Gregorio makes her professional acting debut as Tiny Tim.
A Christmas Carol runs November 20 – January 2 on the Leonard C. Haas Stage. Single tickets are $45. To purchase, call 610.644.3500 or visit peopleslight.org. People’s Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355.
When first published, the full title of Dickens’ novella read A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. Playwright and Composer Zak Berkman subtitles his adaptation A Ghost Story of Grief & Generosity, a nod to the original, yet illustrative of his fresh take on the holiday classic. At the top of the play, audiences are greeted by a “Kind Chorus” of traveling spirits, preparing to perform Scrooge’s story of greed, grief, and redemption for today’s audiences. “Like the ghosts who visit Scrooge, our production is a dialogue between the past, present, and future,” says Berkman. “Developed throughout 2020 and 2021, this is a Christmas Carol for now—the themes of loss, generosity, and the collective good resonate more than ever in our COVID-altered world. I’m hopeful that newcomers and die-hard fans alike will delight in the Dickensian elements so many of us know and love, but also experience something new and surprising.”
The world premiere adaptation is further set apart by its blend of original songs and newly arranged traditional carols, performed by the “Kind Chorus” and three onstage musicians. Sourced primarily from nineteenth-century England, the compositions and arrangements are inspired by this era of folk music but layered with more contemporary sensibilities. Berkman, who received a Barrymore Award for Best Original Music for 2018’s Such Things as Vampires composes the music in collaboration with Music Supervisor and Arranger Mitch Chakour—a “musician’s musician” who has toured with the likes of B.B. King, James Brown, Bonnie Raitt, and Joe Cocker. Justin Yoder serves as Associate Music Director and Conductor, and Broadway’s Katie Rose McLaughlin (Hadestown) choreographs the production.
People’s Light holiday veterans should take note that this season’s offering is not a musical panto (a longtime tradition at the Theatre), but it is music-filled, interactive fun for every age—whether you believe in spirits or not. Get a sneak peek at the original music at peopleslight.org.
“After almost two years of dark stages, we wanted to come back in a big way,” says People’s Light Executive Artistic Director Abigail Adams. “With beautiful music and lively dancing, imaginative staging, and a remarkable cast of about twenty people—from our own backyard to Broadway—this ambitious, world premiere production reminds us why we go to the theatre.”
While many of us are thrilled to return to live theatre, People’s Light strives to reach audiences wherever they are, including at home. A filmed version of A Christmas Carol is available to stream for $25 from December 24 through January 6. People’s Light automatically provides free access to the film for everyone who purchases tickets to the live production.
A Christmas Carol features People’s Light company members Nadira Beard (Our Town, Project Dawn) as Baltic/Kind Chorus, David Ingram (America 2am, Moon Over Buffalo) as Ebenezer Scrooge starting December 24, Susan McKey (A Christmas Carol in Concert, 16 pantos) as Mrs. Fezziwig/Kind Chorus, Tom Teti (A Christmas Carol in Concert, Little Red Robin Hood) as Mr. Fezziwig/Kind Chorus, and Greg Wood (How to Write a New Book for the Bible) as the Scrooge and Marley Understudy. Returning guest artists include Eliot Berkman-Lamm (A Christmas Carol in Concert) as Peter/Kind Chorus , Benjamin Brown (Sweat, Our Town) as Marley/Kind Chorus, Charlie DelMarcelle (A Christmas Carol in Concert, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane) as the Kind Chorus Leader, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh (Shakespeare in Love) as Bob/Kind Chorus, Liz Filios (The Matchmaker, Cinderella) as Emily/Kind Chorus, Christian Giancaterino (Cinderella) as Boy Scrooge/Kind Chorus, Lily Lexer (A Christmas Carol in Concert, Our Town) as Fan/Kind Chorus, Zonya Love (Spiritual Uprising, Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole) as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Chris Monaco (Arthur and the Tale of the Red Dragon) as Swing, Ian Merrill Peakes (A Christmas Carol in Concert, Ghosts) as Ebenezer Scrooge through December 23, and Pearl Rhein (Such Things as Vampires) as the Ghost of Christmas Past/Kind Chorus Leader. Making their People’s Light debuts are Olivia Gregorio as Tiny Tim/Kind Chorus, Dorcas Leung as Belle/Kind Chorus, Jessica Money as Swing, Nathan M. Ramsey as Fred/Kind Chorus, and Asel Swango as Martha/Kind Chorus.
David Bradley (The Diary of Anne Frank, Cinderella) directs. Mitch Chakour (A Christmas Carol in Concert) serves as Music Supervisor and Arranger, aided by Associate Music Director & Cello/Conductor Justin Yoder (A Christmas Carol in Concert, Shakespeare in Love). Returning designers include Scenic Designer Paige Hathaway (Shakespeare in Love), Costume Designer Marla Jurglanis (The Children, The Matchmaker), Lighting Designer Dawn Chiang (Hold These Truths), and Sound Designer Brent Hoyer (A Christmas Carol in Concert, Little Red Robin Hood). Choreographer & Movement Director Katie Rose McLaughlin makes her People’s Light debut. Resident Stage Manager Kate McSorley Fossner stage manages, assisted by Abigail Richard. Newcomer Saladin White II serves as COVID Compliance Officer.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Masks are required indoors for everyone who visits People’s Light, regardless of vaccination status. Ticket holders must show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test, along with a valid photo ID, for entry into the theatre. To be considered fully vaccinated, your performance date must be at least 14 days after your second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or at least 14 days after a single-dose vaccine. Unvaccinated audience members, including children under 12, must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time. Home tests will be accepted. For more information on policies at People’s Light, including new seating arrangements, audience capacity, and artist and staff safety, visit the Health and Safety page. Recommended protocols may shift with evolving local and national guidelines, so please continue to check this page for the most up-to-date information when planning your visit to People’s Light.
A Christmas Carol previews Saturday, November 20 and Sunday, November 21 at 7pm. The play opens on Tuesday, November 23 at 7pm and runs through Sunday, January 2. Single tickets are $45. People’s Light also offers a range of ticket discounts, like a 50%-off Access Night on December 28 at 7pm, 25% off for educators and military families, youth tickets, and A Christmas Carol Family Packs, which are 10% off the regular ticket price for groups of 6, 7, 8, or 9. Learn more about available ticket discounts here.
Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, or to purchase group tickets, call Kelly Benedict at 610.647.1900, x111, or email email@example.com .
3, 4, 5, and 6-Play subscription packages are available for the 2021/2022 Season at People’s Light. Productions include A Christmas Carol (November 20 – January 2); Personality: The Lloyd Price Musical (March 2 – 27); Hold These Truths (April 6 – May 1); Bayard Rustin Inside Ashland (May 18 – June 12); The Vinegar Tree (June 29 – July 24); and Grand Horizons (August 3 – 28).
To order single tickets or subscriptions, visit peopleslight.org or call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.
Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply.
A Christmas Carol Open Caption (OC) performances run December 28 through January 2 and feature an LED screen near the stage that displays text simultaneously with live speech and action, for individuals with hearing impairment and English language learners. No other elements of the performance change.
People’s Light offers a Relaxed Performance of A Christmas Carol on Sunday, December 19 at 2pm. Relaxed Performances offer a judgment-free environment that invites individuals with autism, ADD, ADHD, dementia, and other sensory sensitivities to enjoy theatre in a relaxed, “shush-free” zone—a great option for parents with young children, too. This performance features ASL interpretation by Hands UP Productions, and audio description provided by Nicole Sardella is available upon request. Tickets to Relaxed Performances are $30, including fees. For more information, contact the Box Office at 610.644.3500.
Service animals are welcome at all performances at People’s Light. The theatre offers a designated relief area and water bowl for their comfort.
People’s Light offers a range of Audio and Visual Aids freely available to patrons, including audio headsets, T-Coil “induction” loops, large sensory supports like fidgets, noise-canceling headphones, and more. These supports are available on a first come, first served basis, no reservations required. Please pick them up from the House Manager in the theatre lobbies. Learn more about Accessibility at People’s Light here.
THE FARMHOUSE AT PEOPLE’S LIGHT
The Theatre’s on-site restaurant offers a casual and cozy dining experience just steps away from the Leonard C. Haas Stage. Three unique, historic rooms showcase aspects of the building’s original 18th-century farmhouse, including two working fireplaces. During warmer months, guests dine al fresco among lush gardens. Make a reservation on OpenTable. And stay tuned for big news! There are some very exciting changes coming up for The Farmhouse. Keep an eye on the website for more soon.
ABOUT PEOPLE’S LIGHT
Founded in 1974, People’s Light serves as one of Pennsylvania’s largest professional non-profit theatres, known for its resident company of artists, eclectic mix of productions, and innovative work with young people.